The festivities in Spain begin on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and last until Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua), with the most massive parades held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Processions are organized by groups and associations called "cofradías". Their members parading the streets from their local churches to the main cathedral are called "nazarenos". Every procession carries a large cross and colorful floats called "pasos". They are often topped with statues of Jesus and Virgin Mary. Marching bands accompanying nazarenos play solemn music. All participants wear "capirote" capes that completely hide their faces and loose robes. This dress is common for sinners seeking penance. In some areas, women must wear mantillas for Easter processions. In Andalusia, women typically dress-up for Semana Santa events in their best clothes of dark colors and wear luxurious lace mantillas. In cities like Seville, many Semana Santa traditions have been preserved since the Middle Ages.
Semana Santa in Andalusia
Every region of Spain celebrates Holy Week in a special way. In Andalusia, it is a week full of color, art, religious fervor, and great processions. Malaga and Seville host the most impressive processions and parades. In Seville, nazarenos carry the floats and sing La Saeta, an acapella song that is performed during processions. In Malaga, it is a military parade with music, dances, and different events.
Semana Santa in Madrid
Madrid hosts a few large processions on Good Friday. The most famous one takes place in the Cristo de Medinaceli which starts at the parish of Jesús de Medinaceli and runs through major streets of the city. Other famous processions on Friday include the Alabarderos and Jesús Nazareno 'el pobre', as well as the silent procession. All of them are dedicated to the passion and death of Jesus Christ.
Semana Santa in Salamanca
Around 22 dramatic processions with hundreds of penitents carrying flags, crosses, or candles make Semana Santa in Salamanca one of the most important celebrations in the country. Main Holy Week events in the city include Procession of the Via Matris and Traslado of Cristo de la Liberación on Good Friday, Procession of La Borriquilla, Procession of Jesús Despojado, and Procession of El Perdón on Palm Sunday.
In the Romanesque city of Zamora, you can experience silence and meditation. The Lorca city will reenact scenes from the Bible with great costumes, dances, and songs.
After attending churches and religious processions, families gather to have special meals with Easter eggs, pork sausages, and Italian Easter bread. While every region has its own traditions, Semana Santa is a time to contemplate and exercise faith for the whole country.
Semana Santa and Easter usually fall on late March and/or early April, depending on the year.